"Wave" Goodbye

  • December 29, 2011
  • Scott

Jiasundar’s post on Google Wave finally turning out the lights reminded me of our own attempt to collaborate on a blog post via Google Wave. We got reasonable far with it but ran out of steam – I think partly due to some of the very shortcomings Google Wave started with.

Basic issues of connectivity – very few of our colleagues had Google Wave accounts.  We couldn’t trivially add them even if they were Gmail or Google Apps users already.

Basic issues of control – once someone was added to a Wave you couldn’t remove them.  And anyone could add someone.  That kind of permissiveness actually reduces sharing.

Minor issues of control – the Google Maps mashup was promising.  But I found you couldn’t control the location and sizing of the map presented – to show a specific region, at a specific zoom.  Pretty well defeats the purpose.

Overall the service raised the question – if a tree falls in the woods, but no one is there to hear it, does it make any noise?  If collaboration happens in the Wave, but no one is there to see it, does it still make progress?

Ultimately Google Wave failed more because of a lack of discipline and will than because of any specific technical or usability hurdle (I’m not aware of anything that couldn’t have been fixed).  It would have made for an interesting mashup with BPM, as SAP’s demonstration of Gravity showed.  But it needed to mature before it would be appropriate for an enterprise setting.

Jaisundar recaps the BPM community’s reaction to Wave – which I would characterize as initially one of panic in some corners, but I wasn’t too concerned personally, for this reason:

It isn’t really Google’s intent to build a BPMS.  They don’t think of the problem Wave is solving as a “process”.  As a result, they’re unlikely to take it in that direction.  I don’t think you end up with a good BPMS my accident.

Intent matters.

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